The Government has recently unveiled some details on the measure known as “express licences”, approved on May 27, 2012, and also revealed that the trend of business closures suffered over the past years is now receding.

Express licences allow a business to be opened within 48 hours after submitting the minimum documentation required. Therefore, a business can start to operate without waiting for all documents to be available. Any business operating in premises of up to 500 square metres (there is no surface limit in Madrid) can benefit from this measure. In 2012, and in relation to premises of up to 300 square metres, 60% of registered business started to operate with an express licence, specifically, 124,459 retail units.

Furthermore, an increase is noted in the opening of retail businesses in relation to the previous year, in particular in industries such as general food, confectionery, bread, book stores, stationery, toy shops and florists.

Business is booming and these types of measures assist in generating activity, albeit limited to specific areas.

The establishment of these businesses mostly takes place in city centres. In the case of Madrid, for instance, shops are mostly in the neighbourhoods of Chamberí, Chamartín and the city centre, and in Barcelona stores are located in the central district, Eixample and the Gracia neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, on the subject of lease expenses, rent payments vary significantly depending on the location of the retail unit. These variations are also a result of differences between types of operators: foreign or fashion retailers seek locations which are representative and can provide market share and, therefore, need a lot of exposure to the public and passers-by, while more traditional retail outlets are not concerned about locating their premises in the quieter side streets of premium shopping areas in cities.

The most successful activities are franchises with proven success and luxury restaurants. Notwithstanding the above, the latter require special permits to operate.